environmental ethics essays

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Environmental ethics essays eric hobsbawm thesis

Environmental ethics essays

These concern not only the needs of each person today, but also those who will come after us. It also deals with the rights of others living creatures that inhabit the Earth. Environmental ethics asks about the moral relationship between humans and the world around as; in contrast to traditional ethics, which concerns with relationship among people only. The modern technological civilization has been affecting nature greatly; therefore, we should analyze the ethical consequences of human actions.

Now, the modern science demonstrates how humans have changed and are changing the global environment in ways not previously understood. For example, it has now been proved that burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have increased the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, and that this may lead to irreversible changes in global climate; Thus, new knowledge and better understanding of nature is raising new ethical issues.

Perhaps the most important question in environmental ethics is whether moral extensions encompasses non-humans. Does nature have rights? Do other species have rights as well? Ethics is the study of what is right and wrong in human conduct. The purpose of this paper is to reveal environmental. History of the Origins of Environmental Ethics The inspiration for environmental ethics was the first Earth Day in when environmentalists started urging philosophers who were involved with environmental groups to do something about environmental ethics.

An intellectual climate had developed in the last few years of the s in large part because of the publication of two papers in Science: Lynn White's "The Historical Roots of our Ecologic Crisis" March and Garett Hardin's "The Tragedy. A critic evaluation of western anthropocentric environmental ethics and non-anthropocentric precedents views towards ecofeminism.

Environmental ethics is defined as the moral relationship between humans and the natural environment Bourdeau, According to Bourdeau , it focuses on how humans behave towards other species, ecosystems and the environment as a whole. It is an area of environmental philosophy that faces a lot of conflict due to the various subdivisions in terms of ethical perceptions.

One of the goals of environmental ethics is to describe and contribute to the creation of an ecologically responsible culture. The creation of such a culture requires the development of knowledge and abilities that will help sustain such a culture.

Since education is one of the key institutions for instilling values and world views, it is important for environmental philosophers. The Links Between Environmental Ethics and Sciences Ecologists formulate their scientific theories influenced by ethical values, and in turn, environmental ethicists value nature based on scientific theories. Darwinian evolutionary theory provides clear examples of these complex links, illustrating how these reciprocal relationships do not constitute a closed system, but are undetermined and open to the influences of two broader worlds: the sociocultural and the natural environment.

On the one. The 20th century may be considered the ultimate expression of Western ideals and philosophy: "civilized" humanity's attempt to dominate "uncivilized" peoples and nature. The 21st century soberingly proclaims the shortsightedness and ultimate unsustainability of this philosophy. This paper shows the limitations of a modern Western world-view, and the practical applicability of ideas to be found in Asian philosophies.

In outline, the contrast may be portrayed by the following overgeneralizations: 1. Home Page Environmental Ethics. Free Environmental Ethics Essays and Papers. Satisfactory Essays. Page 1 of 50 - About essays. Better Essays.

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Environmental Ethics deal with issues related to the rights of individuals that are fundamental to life and well-being. These concern not only the needs of each person today, but also those who will come after us. It also deals with the rights of others living creatures that inhabit the Earth. Environmental ethics asks about the moral relationship between humans and the world around as; in contrast to traditional ethics, which concerns with relationship among people only.

The modern technological civilization has been affecting nature greatly; therefore, we should analyze the ethical consequences of human actions. Now, the modern science demonstrates how humans have changed and are changing the global environment in ways not previously understood.

For example, it has now been proved that burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have increased the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere, and that this may lead to irreversible changes in global climate; Thus, new knowledge and better understanding of nature is raising new ethical issues. Perhaps the most important question in environmental ethics is whether moral extensions encompasses non-humans.

Does nature have rights? Consider a mining company which has performed open pit mining in some previously unspoiled area. Does the company have a moral obligation to restore the landform and surface ecology? And what is the value of a humanly restored environment compared with the originally natural environment?

If that is wrong, is it simply because a sustainable environment is essential to present and future human well-being? These are among the questions investigated by environmental ethics. Some of them are specific questions faced by individuals in particular circumstances, while others are more global questions faced by groups and communities. Yet others are more abstract questions concerning the value and moral standing of the natural environment and its non-human components.

The former is the value of things as means to further some other ends, whereas the latter is the value of things as ends in themselves regardless of whether they are also useful as means to other ends. For instance, certain fruits have instrumental value for bats who feed on them, since feeding on the fruits is a means to survival for the bats. However, it is not widely agreed that fruits have value as ends in themselves.

We can likewise think of a person who teaches others as having instrumental value for those who want to acquire knowledge. Yet, in addition to any such value, it is normally said that a person, as a person, has intrinsic value, i. For another example, a certain wild plant may have instrumental value because it provides the ingredients for some medicine or as an aesthetic object for human observers.

But if the plant also has some value in itself independently of its prospects for furthering some other ends such as human health, or the pleasure from aesthetic experience, then the plant also has intrinsic value. Many traditional western ethical perspectives, however, are anthropocentric or human-centered in that either they assign intrinsic value to human beings alone i.

For example, Aristotle Politics , Bk. Generally, anthropocentric positions find it problematic to articulate what is wrong with the cruel treatment of non-human animals, except to the extent that such treatment may lead to bad consequences for human beings.

From this standpoint, cruelty towards non-human animals would be instrumentally, rather than intrinsically, wrong. Likewise, anthropocentrism often recognizes some non-intrinsic wrongness of anthropogenic i. Such destruction might damage the well-being of human beings now and in the future, since our well-being is essentially dependent on a sustainable environment see Passmore ; Bookchin ; Norton et al.

When environmental ethics emerged as a new sub-discipline of philosophy in the early s, it did so by posing a challenge to traditional anthropocentrism. In the first place, it questioned the assumed moral superiority of human beings to members of other species on Earth. In the second place, it investigated the possibility of rational arguments for assigning intrinsic value to the natural environment and its non-human contents.

It should be noted, however, that some theorists working in the field see no need to develop new, non-anthropocentric theories. Instead, they advocate what may be called enlightened anthropocentrism or, perhaps more appropriately called, prudential anthropocentrism. Briefly, this is the view that all the moral duties we have towards the environment are derived from our direct duties to its human inhabitants.

Enlightened anthropocentrism, they argue, is sufficient for that practical purpose, and perhaps even more effective in delivering pragmatic outcomes, in terms of policy-making, than non-anthropocentric theories given the theoretical burden on the latter to provide sound arguments for its more radical view that the non-human environment has intrinsic value cf. Norton , de Shalit , Light and Katz Furthermore, some prudential anthropocentrists may hold what might be called cynical anthropocentrism, which says that we have a higher-level anthropocentric reason to be non-anthropocentric in our day-to-day thinking.

Suppose that a day-to-day non-anthropocentrist tends to act more benignly towards the non-human environment on which human well-being depends. This would provide reason for encouraging non-anthropocentric thinking, even to those who find the idea of non-anthropocentric intrinsic value hard to swallow. The position can be structurally compared to some indirect form of consequentialism and may attract parallel critiques see Henry Sidgwick on utilitarianism and esoteric morality, and Bernard Williams on indirect utilitarianism.

Although nature was the focus of much nineteenth and twentieth century philosophy, contemporary environmental ethics only emerged as an academic discipline in the s. The questioning and rethinking of the relationship of human beings with the natural environment over the last thirty years reflected an already widespread perception in the s that the late twentieth century faced a human population explosion as well as a serious environmental crisis.

Commercial farming practices aimed at maximizing crop yields and profits, Carson speculates, are capable of impacting simultaneously on environmental and public health. In a much cited essay White on the historical roots of the environmental crisis, historian Lynn White argued that the main strands of Judeo-Christian thinking had encouraged the overexploitation of nature by maintaining the superiority of humans over all other forms of life on Earth, and by depicting all of nature as created for the use of humans.

Central to the rationale for his thesis were the works of the Church Fathers and The Bible itself, supporting the anthropocentric perspective that humans are the only things that matter on Earth. Consequently, they may utilize and consume everything else to their advantage without any injustice.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. According to White, the Judeo-Christian idea that humans are created in the image of the transcendent supernatural God, who is radically separate from nature, also by extension radically separates humans themselves from nature.

This ideology further opened the way for untrammeled exploitation of nature. Clearly, without technology and science, the environmental extremes to which we are now exposed would probably not be realized. Nevertheless, White argued that some minority traditions within Christianity e. Around the same time, the Stanford ecologists Paul and Anne Ehrlich warned in The Population Bomb Ehrlich that the growth of human population threatened the viability of planetary life-support systems.

Here, plain to see, was a living, shining planet voyaging through space and shared by all of humanity, a precious vessel vulnerable to pollution and to the overuse of its limited capacities. In a team of researchers at MIT led by Dennis Meadows published the Limits to Growth study, a work that summed up in many ways the emerging concerns of the previous decade and the sense of vulnerability triggered by the view of the Earth from space.

In the commentary to the study, the researchers wrote:. The new field emerged almost simultaneously in three countries—the United States, Australia, and Norway. In the first two of these countries, direction and inspiration largely came from the earlier twentieth century American literature of the environment. A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Leopold —5. However, Leopold himself provided no systematic ethical theory or framework to support these ethical ideas concerning the environment. His views therefore presented a challenge and opportunity for moral theorists: could some ethical theory be devised to justify the injunction to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biosphere?

The land ethic sketched by Leopold, attempting to extend our moral concern to cover the natural environment and its non-human contents, was drawn on explicitly by the Australian philosopher Richard Routley later Sylvan. According to Routley cf. From the human-chauvinistic or absolutely anthropocentric perspective, the last person would do nothing morally wrong, since his or her destructive act in question would not cause any damage to the interest and well-being of humans, who would by then have disappeared.

Nevertheless, Routley points out that there is a moral intuition that the imagined last acts would be morally wrong. An explanation for this judgment, he argued, is that those non-human objects in the environment, whose destruction is ensured by the last person or last people, have intrinsic value, a kind of value independent of their usefulness for humans.

From his critique, Routley concluded that the main approaches in traditional western moral thinking were unable to allow the recognition that natural things have intrinsic value, and that the tradition required overhaul of a significant kind.

The U. It would be wrong, he maintained, to eliminate a rare butterfly species simply to increase the monetary value of specimens already held by collectors. Species, Rolston went on to argue, are intrinsically valuable and are usually more valuable than individual specimens, since the loss of a species is a loss of genetic possibilities and the deliberate destruction of a species would show disrespect for the very biological processes which make possible the emergence of individual living things also see Rolston , Ch Meanwhile, the work of Christopher Stone a professor of law at the University of Southern California had become widely discussed.

Stone proposed that trees and other natural objects should have at least the same standing in law as corporations. This suggestion was inspired by a particular case in which the Sierra Club had mounted a challenge against the permit granted by the U. Forest Service to Walt Disney Enterprises for surveys preparatory to the development of the Mineral King Valley, which was at the time a relatively remote game refuge, but not designated as a national park or protected wilderness area.

The Disney proposal was to develop a major resort complex serving visitors daily to be accessed by a purpose-built highway through Sequoia National Park. The Sierra Club, as a body with a general concern for wilderness conservation, challenged the development on the grounds that the valley should be kept in its original state for its own sake. Stone reasoned that if trees, forests and mountains could be given standing in law then they could be represented in their own right in the courts by groups such as the Sierra Club.

Moreover, like any other legal person , these natural things could become beneficiaries of compensation if it could be shown that they had suffered compensatable injury through human activity. When the case went to the U. Supreme Court, it was determined by a narrow majority that the Sierra Club did not meet the condition for bringing a case to court, for the Club was unable and unwilling to prove the likelihood of injury to the interest of the Club or its members.

Only items that have interests, Feinberg argued, can be regarded as having legal standing and, likewise, moral standing. For it is interests which are capable of being represented in legal proceedings and moral debates. This same point would also seem to apply to political debates. Granted that some animals have interests that can be represented in this way, would it also make sense to speak of trees, forests, rivers, barnacles, or termites as having interests of a morally relevant kind?

This issue was hotly contested in the years that followed. Skeptical of the prospects for any radically new ethic, Passmore cautioned that traditions of thought could not be abruptly overhauled. Any change in attitudes to our natural surroundings which stood the chance of widespread acceptance, he argued, would have to resonate and have some continuities with the very tradition which had legitimized our destructive practices.

The confluence of ethical, political and legal debates about the environment, the emergence of philosophies to underpin animal rights activism and the puzzles over whether an environmental ethic would be something new rather than a modification or extension of existing ethical theories were reflected in wider social and political movements.

It is not clear, however, that collectivist or communist countries do any better in terms of their environmental record see Dominick All three shared a passion for the great mountains. The deep ecologist respects this intrinsic value, taking care, for example, when walking on the mountainside not to cause unnecessary damage to the plants. To make such a separation not only leads to selfishness towards other people, but also induces human selfishness towards nature.

The identity of a living thing is essentially constituted by its relations to other things in the world, especially its ecological relations to other living things. If people conceptualise themselves and the world in relational terms, the deep ecologists argue, then people will take better care of nature and the world in general. The idea is, briefly, that by identifying with nature I can enlarge the boundaries of the self beyond my skin. To respect and to care for my Self is also to respect and to care for the natural environment, which is actually part of me and with which I should identify.

One clear historical antecedent to this kind of nature spiritualism is the romanticism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as expressed in his last work, the Reveries of the Solitary Walker. Grey , Taylor and Zimmerman It also remains unclear in what sense rivers, mountains and forests can be regarded as possessors of any kind of interests.

Biospheric egalitarianism was modified in the s to the weaker claim that the flourishing of both human and non-human life have value in themselves. The platform was conceived as establishing a middle ground, between underlying philosophical orientations, whether Christian, Buddhist, Daoist, process philosophy, or whatever, and the practical principles for action in specific situations, principles generated from the underlying philosophies.

Thus the deep ecological movement became explicitly pluralist see Brennan ; c. Light Callicott These "relationalist" developments of deep ecology are, however, criticized by some feminist theorists. The idea of nature as part of oneself, one might argue, could justify the continued exploitation of nature instead.

For one is presumably more entitled to treat oneself in whatever ways one likes than to treat another independent agent in whatever ways one likes. Meanwhile, some third-world critics accused deep ecology of being elitist in its attempts to preserve wilderness experiences for only a select group of economically and socio-politically well-off people. The Indian writer Ramachandra Guha , for instance, depicts the activities of many western-based conservation groups as a new form of cultural imperialism, aimed at securing converts to conservationism cf.

Bookchin and Brennan a. Finally, in other critiques, deep ecology is portrayed as having an inconsistent utopian vision see Anker and Witoszek Broadly speaking, a feminist issue is any that contributes in some way to understanding the oppression of women. By the mid s, feminist writers had raised the issue of whether patriarchal modes of thinking encouraged not only widespread inferiorizing and colonizing of women, but also of people of colour, animals and nature.

Sheila Collins , for instance, argued that male-dominated culture or patriarchy is supported by four interlocking pillars: sexism, racism, class exploitation, and ecological destruction. Emphasizing the importance of feminism to the environmental movement and various other liberation movements, some writers, such as Ynestra King a and b , argue that the domination of women by men is historically the original form of domination in human society, from which all other hierarchies—of rank, class, and political power—flow.

For instance, human exploitation of nature may be seen as a manifestation and extension of the oppression of women, in that it is the result of associating nature with the female, which had been already inferiorized and oppressed by the male-dominating culture. But within the plurality of feminist positions, other writers, such as Val Plumwood , understand the oppression of women as only one of the many parallel forms of oppression sharing and supported by a common ideological structure, in which one party the colonizer uses a number of conceptual and rhetorical devices to privilege its interests over that of the other party the colonized.

Facilitated by a common structure, seemingly diverse forms of oppression can mutually reinforce each other Warren , , , Cheney , and Plumwood These patterns of thinking and conceptualizing the world, many feminist theorists argue, also nourish and sustain other forms of chauvinism, including, human-chauvinism i.

Furthermore, under dualism all the first items in these contrasting pairs are assimilated with each other, and all the second items are likewise linked with each other. For example, the male is seen to be associated with the rational, active, creative, Cartesian human mind, and civilized, orderly, transcendent culture; whereas the female is regarded as tied to the emotional, passive, determined animal body, and primitive, disorderly, immanent nature.

These interlocking dualisms are not just descriptive dichotomies, according to the feminists, but involve a prescriptive privileging of one side of the opposed items over the other. Dualism confers superiority to everything on the male side, but inferiority to everything on the female side. The problem with dualistic and hierarchical modes of thinking, however, is not just that that they are epistemically unreliable. It is not just that the dominating party often falsely sees the dominated party as lacking or possessing the allegedly superior or inferior qualities, or that the dominated party often internalizes false stereotypes of itself given by its oppressors, or that stereotypical thinking often overlooks salient and important differences among individuals.

More important, according to feminist analyses, the very premise of prescriptive dualism—the valuing of attributes of one polarized side and the devaluing of those of the other, the idea that domination and oppression can be justified by appealing to attributes like masculinity, rationality, being civilized or developed, etc. Feminism represents a radical challenge for environmental thinking, politics, and traditional social ethical perspectives.

It promises to link environmental questions with wider social problems concerning various kinds of discrimination and exploitation, and fundamental investigations of human psychology. However, whether there are conceptual, causal or merely contingent connections among the different forms of oppression and liberation remains a contested issue see Green However, because of the varieties of, and disagreements among, feminist theories, the label may be too wide to be informative and has generally fallen from use.

An often overlooked source of ecological ideas is the work of the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School of critical theory founded by Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno Horkheimer and Adorno At the root of this alienation, they argue, is a narrow positivist conception of rationality—which sees rationality as an instrument for pursuing progress, power and technological control, and takes observation, measurement and the application of purely quantitative methods to be capable of solving all problems.

Such a positivistic view of science combines determinism with optimism. Natural processes as well as human activities are seen to be predictable and manipulable. Nature and, likewise, human nature is no longer mysterious, uncontrollable, or fearsome. Instead, it is reduced to an object strictly governed by natural laws, which therefore can be studied, known, and employed to our benefit. By promising limitless knowledge and power, the positivism of science and technology not only removes our fear of nature, the critical theorists argue, but also destroys our sense of awe and wonder towards it.

The progress in knowledge and material well-being may not be a bad thing in itself, where the consumption and control of nature is a necessary part of human life. However, the critical theorists argue that the positivistic disenchantment of natural things and, likewise, of human beings—because they too can be studied and manipulated by science disrupts our relationship with them, encouraging the undesirable attitude that they are nothing more than things to be probed, consumed and dominated.

To remedy such an alienation, the project of Horkheimer and Adorno is to replace the narrow positivistic and instrumentalist model of rationality with a more humanistic one, in which the values of the aesthetic, moral, sensuous and expressive aspects of human life play a central part.

Thus, their aim is not to give up our rational faculties or powers of analysis and logic. Rather, the ambition is to arrive at a dialectical synthesis between Romanticism and Enlightenment, to return to anti-deterministic values of freedom, spontaneity and creativity. Not only do we stop seeing nature as primarily, or simply, an object of consumption, we are also able to be directly and spontaneously acquainted with nature without interventions from our rational faculties. The re-enchantment of the world through aesthetic experience, he argues, is also at the same time a re-enchantment of human lives and purposes.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the radical attempt to purge the concept of nature from eco-critical work meets with success. On the other hand, the new animists have been much inspired by the serious way in which some indigenous peoples placate and interact with animals, plants and inanimate things through ritual, ceremony and other practices.

According to the new animists, the replacement of traditional animism the view that personalized souls are found in animals, plants, and other material objects by a form of disenchanting positivism directly leads to an anthropocentric perspective, which is accountable for much human destructiveness towards nature.

In a disenchanted world, there is no meaningful order of things or events outside the human domain, and there is no source of sacredness or dread of the sort felt by those who regard the natural world as peopled by divinities or demons Stone When a forest is no longer sacred, there are no spirits to be placated and no mysterious risks associated with clear-felling it. A disenchanted nature is no longer alive. It commands no respect, reverence or love.

It is nothing but a giant machine, to be mastered to serve human purposes. The new animists argue for reconceptualizing the boundary between persons and non-persons. Whether the notion that a mountain or a tree is to be regarded as a person is taken literally or not, the attempt to engage with the surrounding world as if it consists of other persons might possibly provide the basis for a respectful attitude to nature see Harvey for a popular account of the new animism.

If disenchantment is a source of environmental problems and destruction, then the new animism can be regarded as attempting to re-enchant, and help to save, nature. In her work, Freya Mathews has tried to articulate a version of animism or panpsychism that captures ways in which the world not just nature contains many kinds of consciousness and sentience.

Instead of bulldozing away old suburbs and derelict factories, the synergistic panpsychist sees these artefacts as themselves part of the living cosmos, hence part of what is to be respected. Likewise, instead of trying to eliminate feral or exotic plants and animals, and restore environments to some imagined pristine state, ways should be found—wherever possible—to promote synergies between the newcomers and the older native populations in ways that maintain ecological flows and promote the further unfolding and developing of ecological processes Mathews Environmentalism, on his view, is a social movement, and the problems it confronts are social problems.

While Bookchin is prepared, like Horkheimer and Adorno, to regard first nature as an aesthetic and sensuous marvel, he regards our intervention in it as necessary. He suggests that we can choose to put ourselves at the service of natural evolution, to help maintain complexity and diversity, diminish suffering and reduce pollution.

While Bookchin is more of a technological optimist than Mumford, both writers have inspired a regional turn in environmental thinking. Bioregionalism gives regionalism an environmental twist. This is the view that natural features should provide the defining conditions for places of community, and that secure and satisfying local lives are led by those who know a place, have learned its lore and who adapt their lifestyle to its affordances by developing its potential within ecological limits.

Such a life, the bioregionalists argue, will enable people to enjoy the fruits of self-liberation and self-development see the essays in List , and the book-length treatment in Thayer , for an introduction to bioregional thought. However, critics have asked why natural features should significant in defining the places in which communities are to be built, and have puzzled over exactly which natural features these should be—geological, ecological, climatic, hydrological, and so on see Brennan b.

If relatively small, bioregional communities are to be home to flourishing human societies, then a question also arises over the nature of the laws and punishments that will prevail in them, and also of their integration into larger regional and global political and economic groupings.

For anarchists and other critics of the predominant social order, a return to self-governing and self-sufficient regional communities is often depicted as liberating and refreshing. But for the skeptics, the worry remains that the bioregional vision is politically over-optimistic and is open to the establishment of illiberal, stifling and undemocratic communities. Further, given its emphasis on local self-sufficiency and the virtue of life in small communities, a question arises over whether bioregionalism is workable in an overcrowded planet.

Deep ecology, feminism, and social ecology have had a considerable impact on the development of political positions in regard to the environment. Feminist analyses have often been welcomed for the psychological insight they bring to several social, moral and political problems. There is, however, considerable unease about the implications of critical theory, social ecology and some varieties of deep ecology and animism.

A further suggestion is that there is a need to reassess traditional theories such as virtue ethics, which has its origins in ancient Greek philosophy see the following section within the context of a form of stewardship similar to that earlier endorsed by Passmore see Barry If this last claim is correct, then the radical activist need not, after all, look for philosophical support in radical, or countercultural, theories of the sort deep ecology, feminism, bioregionalism and social ecology claim to be but see Zimmerman Although environmental ethicists often try to distance themselves from the anthropocentrism embedded in traditional ethical views Passmore , Norton are exceptions , they also quite often draw their theoretical resources from traditional ethical systems and theories.

Consider the following two basic moral questions: 1 What kinds of thing are intrinsically valuable, good or bad? From this perspective, answers to question 2 are informed by answers to question 1. As the utilitarian focus is the balance of pleasure and pain as such, the question of to whom a pleasure or pain belongs is irrelevant to the calculation and assessment of the rightness or wrongness of actions.

Hence, the eighteenth century utilitarian Jeremy Bentham , and now Peter Singer , have argued that the interests of all the sentient beings i. Singer regards the animal liberation movement as comparable to the liberation movements of women and people of colour. Unlike the environmental philosophers who attribute intrinsic value to the natural environment and its inhabitants, Singer and utilitarians in general attribute intrinsic value to the experience of pleasure or interest satisfaction as such, not to the beings who have the experience.

Similarly, for the utilitarian, non-sentient objects in the environment such as plant species, rivers, mountains, and landscapes, all of which are the objects of moral concern for environmentalists, are of no intrinsic but at most instrumental value to the satisfaction of sentient beings see Singer , Ch. Furthermore, because right actions, for the utilitarian, are those that maximize the overall balance of interest satisfaction over frustration, practices such as whale-hunting and the killing of an elephant for ivory, which cause suffering to non-human animals, might turn out to be right after all: such practices might produce considerable amounts of interest-satisfaction for human beings, which, on the utilitarian calculation, outweigh the non-human interest-frustration involved.

As the result of all the above considerations, it is unclear to what extent a utilitarian ethic can also be an environmental ethic. This point may not so readily apply to a wider consequentialist approach, which attributes intrinsic value not only to pleasure or satisfaction, but also to various objects and processes in the natural environment. Deontological ethical theories, in contrast, maintain that whether an action is right or wrong is for the most part independent of whether its consequences are good or bad.

From the deontologist perspective, there are several distinct moral rules or duties e. When asked to justify an alleged moral rule, duty or its corresponding right, deontologists may appeal to the intrinsic value of those beings to whom it applies. We have, in particular, a prima facie moral duty not to harm them.

Regan maintains that certain practices such as sport or commercial hunting, and experimentation on animals violate the moral right of intrinsically valuable animals to respectful treatment. Such practices, he argues, are intrinsically wrong regardless of whether or not some better consequences ever flow from them. Exactly which animals have intrinsic value and therefore the moral right to respectful treatment?

To be such a subject is a sufficient though not necessary condition for having intrinsic value, and to be a subject-of-a-life involves, among other things, having sense-perceptions, beliefs, desires, motives, memory, a sense of the future, and a psychological identity over time.

Some authors have extended concern for individual well-being further, arguing for the intrinsic value of organisms achieving their own good, whether those organisms are capable of consciousness or not. Furthermore, Taylor maintains that the intrinsic value of wild living things generates a prima facie moral duty on our part to preserve or promote their goods as ends in themselves, and that any practices which treat those beings as mere means and thus display a lack of respect for them are intrinsically wrong.

A more recent and biologically detailed defence of the idea that living things have representations and goals and hence have moral worth is found in Agar Attfield also endorses a form of consequentialism which takes into consideration, and attempts to balance, the many and possibly conflicting goods of different living things also see Varner for a defense of biocentric individualism with affinities to both consequentialist and deontological approaches.

For instance, even if HIV has a good of its own this does not mean that we ought to assign any positive moral weight to the realization of that good. More recently, the distinction between these two traditional approaches has taken its own specific form of development in environmental philosophy. Instead of pitting conceptions of value against conceptions of rights, it has been suggested that there may be two different conceptions of intrinsic value in play in discussion about environmental good and evil.

One the one side, there is the intrinsic value of states of affairs that are to be promoted - and this is the focus of the consequentialist thinkers. On the other deontological hand there is the intrinsic values of entities to be respected see Bradley , McShane These two different foci for the notion of intrinsic value still provide room for fundamental argument between deontologists and consequentialist to continue, albeit in a somewhat modified form. Note that the ethics of animal liberation or animal rights and biocentrism are both individualistic in that their various moral concerns are directed towards individuals only—not ecological wholes such as species, populations, biotic communities, and ecosystems.

None of these is sentient, a subject-of-a-life, or a teleological-center-of-life, but the preservation of these collective entities is a major concern for many environmentalists. Moreover, the goals of animal liberationists, such as the reduction of animal suffering and death, may conflict with the goals of environmentalists. For example, the preservation of the integrity of an ecosystem may require the culling of feral animals or of some indigenous animal populations that threaten to destroy fragile habitats.

So there are disputes about whether the ethics of animal liberation is a proper branch of environmental ethics see Callicott , , Sagoff , Jamieson , Crisp and Varner Criticizing the individualistic approach in general for failing to accommodate conservation concerns for ecological wholes, J. A straightforward implication of this version of the land ethic is that an individual member of the biotic community ought to be sacrificed whenever that is needed for the protection of the holistic good of the community.

For instance, Callicott maintains that if culling a white-tailed deer is necessary for the protection of the holistic biotic good, then it is a land-ethical requirement to do so. But, to be consistent, the same point also applies to human individuals because they are also members of the biotic community. Tom Regan , p. Under pressure from the charge of ecofascism and misanthropy, Callicott Ch.

To further distance himself from the charge of ecofascism, Callicott introduced explicit principles which prioritize obligations to human communities over those to natural ones. As he put it:. It remains to be seen if this position escapes the charges of misanthropy and totalitarianism laid against earlier holistic and relational theories of value.

This, he proposes, is a reason for thinking that individual natural entities should not be treated as mere instruments, and thus a reason for assigning them intrinsic value. Furthermore, he argues that the same moral point applies to the case of natural ecosystems, to the extent that they lack intrinsic function. Carrying the project of attributing intrinsic value to nature to its ultimate form, Robert Elliot argues that naturalness itself is a property in virtue of possessing which all natural things, events, and states of affairs, attain intrinsic value.

Furthermore, Elliot argues that even a consequentialist, who in principle allows the possibility of trading off intrinsic value from naturalness for intrinsic value from other sources, could no longer justify such kind of trade-off in reality. This is because the reduction of intrinsic value due to the depletion of naturalness on Earth, according to him, has reached such a level that any further reduction of it could not be compensated by any amount of intrinsic value generated in other ways, no matter how great it is.

Katz, on the other hand, argues that a restored nature is really just an artifact designed and created for the satisfaction of human ends, and that the value of restored environments is merely instrumental. However, some critics have pointed out that advocates of moral dualism between the natural and the artifactual run the risk of diminishing the value of human life and culture, and fail to recognize that the natural environments interfered with by humans may still have morally relevant qualities other than pure naturalness see Lo Yet, as Bernard Williams points out Williams , we may, paradoxically, need to use our technological powers to retain a sense of something not being in our power.

An important message underlying the debate, perhaps, is that even if ecological restoration is achievable, it might have been better to have left nature intact in the first place. Given the significance of the concept of naturalness in these debates, it is perhaps surprising that there has been relatively little analysis of that concept itself in environmental thought.

In his pioneering work on the ethics of the environment, Holmes Rolston has worked with a number of different conceptions of the natural see Brennan and Lo , pp. Indeed, the richness of the language of virtues, and the emphasis on moral character, is sometimes cited as a reason for exploring a virtues-based approach to the complex and always-changing questions of sustainability and environmental care Hill , Wensveen , Sandler One question central to virtue ethics is what the moral reasons are for acting one way or another.

For instance, from the perspective of virtue ethics, kindness and loyalty would be moral reasons for helping a friend in hardship. From the perspective of virtue ethics, the motivation and justification of actions are both inseparable from the character traits of the acting agent. Furthermore, unlike deontology or consequentialism the moral focus of which is other people or states of the world, one central issue for virtue ethics is how to live a flourishing human life, this being a central concern of the moral agent himself or herself.

The connection between morality and psychology is another core subject of investigation for virtue ethics. It is sometimes suggested that human virtues, which constitute an important aspect of a flourishing human life, must be compatible with human needs and desires, and perhaps also sensitive to individual affection and temperaments.

As its central focus is human flourishing as such, virtue ethics may seem unavoidably anthropocentric and unable to support a genuine moral concern for the non-human environment. Despite the variety of positions in environmental ethics developed over the last thirty years, they have focused mainly on issues concerned with wilderness and the reasons for its preservation see Callicott and Nelson for a collection of essays on the ideas and moral significance of wilderness.

The importance of wilderness experience to the human psyche has been emphasized by many environmental philosophers. Likewise, the critical theorists believe that aesthetic appreciation of nature has the power to re-enchant human life. An argument by Bryan Norton draws attention to an analogy with music. Someone exposed for the first time to a new musical genre may undergo a transformation in musical preferences, tastes and values as a result of the experience Norton Such a transformation can affect their other preferences and desires too, in both direct and indirect ways see Sarkar , ch.

By contrast to the focus on wild places, relatively little attention has been paid to the built environment, although this is the one in which most people spend most of their time. In post-war Britain, for example, cheaply constructed new housing developments were often poor replacements for traditional communities. They have been associated with lower amounts of social interaction and increased crime compared with the earlier situation.

The destruction of highly functional high-density traditional housing, indeed, might be compared with the destruction of highly diverse ecosystems and biotic communities. Some philosophical theories about natural environments and objects have potential to be extended to cover built environments and non-natural objects of several sorts see King , Light , Palmer , while Fox aims to include both built and natural environments in the scope of a single ethical theory. Certainly there are many parallels between natural and artificial domains: for example, many of the conceptual problems involved in discussing the restoration of natural objects also appear in the parallel context of restoring human-made objects.

Thus, a new range of moral and political problems open up, including the environmental cost of tourist access to wilderness areas, and ways in which limited access could be arranged to areas of natural beauty and diversity, while maintaining the individual freedoms central to liberal democracies. Lovers of wilderness sometimes consider the high human populations in some developing countries as a key problem underlying the environmental crisis.

But such a view has been criticized for seeming to reveal a degree of misanthropy, directed at those human beings least able to protect and defend themselves see Attfield , Brennan a. Can such an apparently elitist sort of wilderness ethics ever be democratised? These questions so far lack convincing answers. For those in the richer countries, for instance, engaging in outdoor recreations usually involves the motor car.

Car dependency, however, is at the heart of many environmental problems, a key factor in urban pollution, while at the same time central to the economic and military activities of many nations and corporations, for example securing and exploiting oil reserves. In an increasingly crowded industrialised world, the answers to such problems are pressing. Any adequate study of this intertwined set of problems must involve interdisciplinary collaboration among philosophers and theorists in the social as well as the natural sciences.

Connections between environmental destruction, unequal resource consumption, poverty and the global economic order have been discussed by political scientists, development theorists, geographers and economists as well as by philosophers. Links between economics and environmental ethics are particularly well established. Work by Mark Sagoff , for instance, has played a major part in bringing the two fields together.

We pay extra for travel insurance to cover the cost of cancellation, illness, or lost baggage. Such actions are economically rational. They provide us with some compensation in case of loss. No-one, however, would regard insurance payments as replacing lost limbs, a loved one or even the joys of a cancelled vacation. So it is for nature, according to Sagoff. We can put dollar values on a stand of timber, a reef, a beach, a national park.

We can measure the travel costs, the money spent by visitors, the real estate values, the park fees and all the rest. If Sagoff is right, cost-benefit analysis of the kind mentioned in section 5 above cannot be a basis for an ethic of sustainability any more than for an ethic of biodiversity.

The potentially misleading appeal to economic reason used to justify the expansion of the corporate sector has also come under critical scrutiny by globalisation theorists see Korten These critiques do not aim to eliminate economics from environmental thinking; rather, they resist any reductive, and strongly anthropocentric, tendency to believe that all social and environmental problems are fundamentally or essentially economic.

Other interdisciplinary approaches link environmental ethics with biology, policy studies, public administration, political theory, cultural history, post-colonial theory, literature, geography, and human ecology for some examples, see Norton, Hutchins, Stevens, Maple , Shrader-Frechette , Gruen and Jamieson eds.

The future development of environmental ethics depend on these, and other interdisciplinary synergies, as much as on its anchorage within philosophy. This report noted the increasing tide of evidence that planetary systems vital to supporting life on Earth were under strain. The key question it raised is whether it is equitable to sacrifice options for future well-being in favour of supporting current lifestyles, especially the comfortable, and sometimes lavish, forms of life enjoyed in the rich countries.

In keeping with the non-anthropocentric focus of much environmental philosophy, a care for sustainability and biodiversity can embrace a care for opportunities available to non-human living things. In face of increasing evidence that planetary systems vital to life-support were under strain, the concept of sustainable development is constructed in the report to encourage certain globally coordinated directions and types of economic and social development.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts:. Thus the goals of economic and social development must be defined in terms of sustainability in all countries—developed or developing, market-oriented or centrally planned.

Interpretations will vary, but must share certain general features and must flow from a consensus on the basic concept of sustainable development and on a broad strategic framework for achieving it.

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